Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) Pray for a Persecuted Church
 Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA)Pray for a Persecuted Church

Latest News

Elderly Indian Jesuit's bail postponed amid concerns.

Feb 19 UCA News

A special court is set to pronounce its verdict on the bail application of an elderly Indian Jesuit activist five months after his arrest and detention on charges of sedition. The special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the federal anti-terror agency, has set March 2 to announce the result of the bail application of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy. “We are happy that finally the court has fixed a date for announcing its order on the bail application,” said Father A. Santhanam, a Jesuit lawyer based in Tamil Nadu state who is following the case. Rights activists are concerned that the sick priest’s bail is being delayed for political reasons. He has been denied bail several times since he was arrested on Oct. 8 from his residence in Ranchi, capital of eastern India’s Jharkhand state, and detained in a jail in Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra state. Father Swamy applied for regular bail on Nov. 26 after his first bail application... 

Christian Forum expresses anguish over Daman administration’s anti-secular circular. 

Feb 17 Matters India

The United Christian Forum has urged the administration and the Directorate of Education of Daman to immediately withdraw a circular making veneration of goddess Saraswati compulsory in all schools under the Union Territory in western India. “The Christian community in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu are at pain and in anguish with the directive of Directorate of Education, Daman, for making the celebration of Vasant Panchami mandatory by venerating Goddess Saraswati,” the forum, an ecumenical body said in a statement. The Vasanth Panchami, also called Saraswati Puja, fell on February 16 this year. The festival marks the preparation for the arrival of spring. It also marks the start of preparation for Holika and Holi, which take place forty days later. The Vasant Utsava (festival) on Panchami is celebrated forty days before Spring...

28, mostly Christians, booked under MP’s anti-conversion ordinance.

Feb 15 Matters India

Chhatar Singh Katre, a teacher in a small village school run by the government in Madhya Pradesh’s Balaghat district organized a get-together and a prayer meet on January 27. The occasion, his daughter said, was to celebrate her college admission. Before the program started, the police reached the spot, and detained Katre, and his friends Mahendra Nagdeva J Nathan; all three were taken to the police station for interrogation, and subsequently arrested for luring and coercing people for conversion. All three remain in jail, their bail pleas having been rejected by the Balaghat sessions court. Katre’s daughter Kalyani Katre said, “My father organized the meet for me and now he is in jail for no reason. The case was registered against him and two others on the complaint of a person who was booked 10 years ago for assaulting and harassing my father and others..."

Latest News

Charges Fabricated against Pastor, Others after Assault, Sources Say.

Feb 9 Morningstar News

Police in southern India have filed false charges against a church pastor after tribal animists assaulted him for his faith so severely that he was hospitalized for two days, sources said. The pastor and three others face a range of fabricated charges such as causing hurt and, in the pastor’s case, sexual harassment, filed in retaliation for his reporting a Jan. 3 assault on him by a mob of about 20 tribal animists in Abbigeri village, Koppal District, Karnataka state, sources said. “It appears the police came under pressure after the assailants got to know about the cases filed against them,” Shyam Sundar, an attorney representing the pastor told Morning Star News. “As a counterblast, they filed a petition with the same contents filed by Christians against them, alleging that Pastor Lamani assaulted a woman and that his wife and the other believers also have insulted the Banjara community members...” 

Pregnant Christian Woman Loses Baby after Hindu Extremist Attack.

Feb 4 Morningstar News 

Leela Bai, eight months pregnant, rushed outside a house she was visiting in central India after hearing the commotion of a Hindu extremist mob attacking tribal Christians preparing to celebrate the New Year. The mob pushed her down and kicked her stomach until she fell unconscious, and later that evening she miscarried on the way to a hospital – which declined to give her any care, she said. Scores of tribal Christians planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a thanksgiving service instead spent the night in the mountains where they had fled to save their lives. “My baby died in my womb after they pushed me down and kicked my stomach,” the 25-year-old Bai said as she wept. Accusing the tribal Christians of converting people, the 30 Hindu extremists were carrying wooden batons and stones as they attacked the Christians in Dewada village, Barwani District, sources said. "Will you people..."

Indian tribal families caned for embracing Christianity.

Feb 3 UCA News

TA village court in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has ordered families who converted to Christianity to be caned, fined and excommunicated from the community. hree Korwa tribal families from Khala village of Dhurki in Garhwa district embraced Christianity on Jan. 22, according to media reports. “There are reports of religious conversion in the area but they are of different denominations as a few small sects are active there. It is a matter of investigation and it should be thoroughly checked as it may give wrong messages among different faiths,” Father Augustin Xess, parish priest of St. Paul’s Church in Garhwa, told UCA News. “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, we don’t promote religious conversion.” The tribal priest said Hindus, followers of the Sarna tribal religion and a small number of Muslims and Christians have been living in the area....

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Hindu fanatics attack Christian pastor in southern India.

Feb 2 UCA News

Police in the southern Indian state of Telangana have arrested two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers for assaulting a pastor accused of carrying out religious conversions. Pastor Chandra Mouli of the Jerusalem Church in Hasthinapuram, Vanasthalipuram, was attacked when he visited the house of church member Jayamma on Jan. 28, police official K. Murali Mohan said. One of Jayamma's family members was sick, so the pastor had gone there to lead prayers. “Lately we have been witnessing regular attacks against Christians in the state, which is very dangerous for a secular society like India. We have to address this issue or else we may face big problems in the future,” Pastor Samuel of Jesus Christ of Nazareth Ministries told UCA News. “We have to be careful about fanatic groups who are trying to create hatred among different faiths by dividing people in the name of caste, creed and religion and trying to push their propaganda...

Madhya Pradesh, Hindutva groups attack Pentecostal prayer meeting.

Jan 27 Asia News 

A crowd of Hindutva members attacked the prayer meeting of a Pentecostal community in the Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra Center (Center for the light of truth) for allegedly illegal conversions. Fr. Babu Joseph, SVD, and the bishop of the diocese of Bophal, Msgr. Leo Cornelius denounced the violent action for violation of private property. But above all - they say - "it is time to ask ourselves what value and usefulness" the anti-conversion laws have in society and this type of reaction of Hindu fundamentalists, capable only of "creating chaos". Yesterday, Indian Republic Day, a group of 90 Pentecostals were holding a prayer meeting in the downtown lobby. In a nearby school, a meeting was being held between Hindu groups. Some of these, hearing the songs and prayers, approached the building. A crowd immediately gathered and entered the centre shouting anti-Christian slogans and...

Police Join Attack on Christians, File False Charges, Sources Say.

Jan 26 Morningstar News 

Police Join Attack on Christians, File False Charges, Sources Say
Police who did nothing to stop a fierce attack on a church service in Uttar Pradesh, India also beat and threatened the Christians while arresting them under false accusations of fraudulent conversions, sources said. A mob of 15 to 20 Hindu extremists earlier this month assaulted men, women and children of Heavenly Gospel Mission Church in Shahjahanpur District, with some saying, “We will continue to hit you until you abuse and curse Jesus,” church members said. After beating the seven men of the congregation with wooden batons and the 10 women and 10 children with the church chairs, they dragged four Christians and the Hindu owner of the rented building outside and threatened to kill them as they further assaulted them near parked police cars with officers who did nothing to stop them, according to a Christian identified only as Rajat in a video on social media...

Latest News

Hindu fanatics raze Protestant church in southern India.

Jan 26 UCA News

An under-construction Protestant church in the southern Indian state of Telangana was demolished by a mob of radical Hindus on Jan. 20.
Gethsemane Prardana Mandiram (church) in Mahabubabad was attacked by a group of Hindu fanatics headed by a leader named Bura Venakanna, said Pastor Muhammad Afzal Paul.
“Local Christians believe that the main reason for the attack is that there are around 80 churches of different denominations in a radius of 10 kilometers, which the Bajrang Dal [a radical Hindu group] could not accept,” Pastor Levi of the Power of Jesus Fellowship, a Protestant church, told UCA News.
“The local administration has stationed some police officers at the church attack site and it is under investigation. The church is very small with about 100 members...

Jailed Indian Jesuit pens letter on prisoners' plight. 

Jan 25 UCA News

Detained elderly Indian Jesuit Stan Swamy has marked his 100 days in prison with a letter highlighting the cases of poor people languishing in jail who begin their trials without even knowing their criminal charges.
In his letter to Jesuit colleagues, the 84-year-old priest also expressed gratitude for the "overwhelming" solidarity of his supporters as he completed 100 days in prison on Jan. 15.
Father Swamy has been detained in Taloja Central Prison in Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra state, since Oct. 9. The human rights activist priest is charged with sedition and having links with outlawed Maoist rebels.
Along with Father Swamy, 15 other activists were arrested and jailed at different times for their alleged involvement in a violent incident in Bhima Koregaon on Jan. 1, 2018, in which one...

Shut down all churches in India's tribal areas, Hindu group demands.

Jan 15 UCA News

A right-wing Hindu group has demanded an immediate shutdown of all churches built in tribal areas of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and action against Christian priests and pastors involved in alleged religious conversion.
However, church leaders denied the conversion allegations and termed the demands an attempt to terrorize and defame them by taking advantage of the newly enacted anti-conversion law in the state.
Azad Prem Singh, a local leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council, said that in the past 70 years Christian missionaries had converted "gullible indigenous people into Christianity and built churches specifically on protected tribal land."
"All the illegally built churches should be shut down immediately...

Latest News

Hindu Nationalists Incite Animists to Attack Christians in India.

Jan 13 Morning Star News

Six Christian families were worshipping in a wood-and-hay structure in eastern India last month when an influential man of wealth wielding an axe led others in and, in coarse language, asked why they had abandoned their tribal religion.
Elder Burjo Tadinji of the church in Odisha state’s Chichima village, answered, “We have known the true living God; we will not leave him. We used to indulge in fights and speak lies, but we do not do all that now. We like this faith, and that is why we follow it.”
Outraged, the leader of the mob of 20-25 men from three different villages began swinging the axe on the church structure, according to pastor Bibudhan Pradhan, who normally leads the small congregation of 15 but was absent that day (Dec. 13).
“They manhandled the Christians, damaged [an adjacent] Christian home, and broke the thatched structure with the axe,” Pastor Pradhan, 48, told Morning Star News...... 

Pressure Increases on Indian Christians as Prayer Meetings Come Under Police Scrutiny.

Jan 8 Barnabas Aid

PIndian police in Shahjahanpur district, Uttar Pradesh state, have been instructed to keep a watch on prayer meetings after five Christians were accused of trying to “unlawfully” convert people to Christianity.
The order was issued by a regional police superintendent after five Christians were brought to authorities by members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a hard-line Hindu group.
The Christians allegedly violated the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, which came into force in November 2020. The new anti-conversion law prohibits “conversion of religion through: force, misrepresentation, undue influence, and allurement, or fraud, or marriage”. It also prohibits “abetting, convincing, and conspiring to such conversions”.
The instructions given to police stations were to be aware of prayer meetings in their area and to.....

Archbishop Machado: Many are challenging the anti-conversion law.  

Jan 7 Asia News

RLast Sunday, a gang of Bajrang Dal men attacked a Christian clergyman in Shahjahanpur, a district in the State of Uttar Pradesh, during a prayer meeting.
According to The Hindu newspaper, Rev David, who hails from Tirunelveli in Kerala and a group of local people, including women and children, had gathered in a garden for prayer to mark the first Sunday of the New Year when men stormed the premises and disrupted the activity.
After the Bajrang Dal members filed a complaint, local police charged the pastor and four others under the new anti-conversion law.
“This is a special ordinance,” said Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai, but “there is a groundswell of public opinion against it. “Legal luminaries, eminent intellectuals, are questioning the legal validity of this ordinance, which touches the core of the constitution”,
For the prelate, who is also.....

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

December 8, 2020. Washington, D.C – The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA), an advocacy group that promotes religious freedom, expressed its deep disappointment with the U.S. Administration for their lack of resolve in naming India to the "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPCs).

 

Although the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended in their 2020 Annual Report to place India on the CPC list, the Trump Administration appeared to lack the political will.

 

The USCIRF report cited that in 2019, India's religious freedom conditions experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault. The national government allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity and engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence.

 

The Indian government headed by the Hindu nationalist BJP party continues to claim so conveniently that all such violence against Christians in India are isolated incidents and not the policy of the government.

 

While it may not be the policy of the Indian government, it is public knowledge that it is the policy of Prime Minister Modi's Hindu nationalist political party in power.

 

The Trump administration that showboats its advocacy for religious freedom in America, especially on behalf of Christians, appears to have thrown the religious freedom of Indian Christians and other minorities under the bus in India. Only time will tell what has motivated President Trump to instruct the State Department to keep India's violations of fundamental human rights off the table during his entire term in office. FIACONA strongly disagrees with the President in his misplaced decision yesterday.

 

FIACONA also hopes that the incoming Biden administration would take a closer look at India's record in this regard and respond appropriately.

However, FIACONA is encouraged to see that the State Department has added Nigeria to the CPC list and expresses our deep appreciation to the USCIRF for their recommendations.

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